Wendy Leland, Chairman, Bill Westhafer, Vice Chairman, Mike Allen, Andre von Hoyer, Andy Motel, Surender S. Kohli, P.E., Dan Wright, P.E., Tom Comitta, and Linda Csete.

Call to Order:

7:40 p.m.

General Items

Mrs. Leland said there’s still a question on the maximum height of lighting poles that should be addressed during the lighting ordinance discussion.

Mrs. Leland asked if the Spring Oaks submission is still expected to be brought in on December 19th. Mrs. Csete said John Mostoller said it would be submitted on December 20th, and she asked him to ensure it’s brought in before noon. Mrs. Leland then asked if the square in the plans would really be called “Philips Square” and Mr. Allen said no.

Mrs. Leland said the Township still has to resolve the issue of PECO’s placement of poles in the Tyler Griffin development. Mr. Kohli referred to his 12/13/11 email that lists numerous developments in the Township where PECO placed the utilities underground. Mrs. Csete was asked to request guidance from the Township solicitor on responding to PECO’s letter.

Approval of November 22, 2011 Minutes

Mr. Allen referred to page 2, Item #3, second paragraph, where a reference to “halogens” should be changed to “LED’s.”

With that change, Mr. Motel moved to approve the minutes of Nov. 22, 2011 and Mr. von Hoyer seconded. Mrs. Leland called for discussion and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.


Mrs. Leland says she’ll respond to SEPTA’s bus stop survey and asked the group to email her with any additional comments they have.

Mrs. Leland said she and Mrs. Csete attended the TMACC luncheon on November 30th.

Mr. Allen said he had a discussion on lighting with John Mostoller and Stan Stubbe, and there is still an open issue. They agreed on where to place the standards in Spring Oak, but haven’t resolved the lighting levels. Mr. Comitta noted that Mr. Allen picked up hot spots in the Spring Oak drawings. Mr. Allen said he’ll contact them to let them know this needs clarification.

Mr. Allen said he, Dan Wright and Linda Csete met with Rob Prophet from Traffic Planning & Design this afternoon to discuss the bidding process for the decorative poles that will be used in the Route 29 improvement project. Mr. Wright will prepare the bid package with input from Mr. Prophet. Construction is expected to start in June 2012.


Discuss Devault Base Plan

Mr. Comitta said he first sent out the draft base plan on October 31st, and suggested that two versions of the map be created. Plan A would include just the Spring Oak and Tyler Griffin developments, since these are known future improvements. Plan B would include those developments plus the Planning Commission’s vision for the other areas. He asked for comments on the plan circulated for this evening.

Mr. Westhafer suggested enlarging sectors as they’re needed, and including PennDOT’s landscaping plan and stormwater management facilities at the end of Whitehorse Road.

Mr. Motel said if the details of Area 2 of the TND are included, the map would have to be larger. Mr. Westhafer said if the map was in electronic form the viewer could zoom in on each area as needed. Mr. Motel suggested sub-maps of each area, and include PennDOT’s four stormwater basins. Mr. Kohli said Rob Prophet at TPD can provide this data.

Mr. von Hoyer asked why the quarry is shown. Mr. Motel said the quarry and the asphalt plant comprise Area 4 of the TND. After reclamation of the quarry, something can be built there and the Township needed to provide it with allowable uses.

Mr. Allen said that today, those meeting with Rob Prophet agreed that improvements to the Turnpike underpass such as dressing up the grey walls and providing lighting for the pedestrian walkway could be negotiated later and doesn’t need to be done now. The other planning commissioners agreed.

Mr. Allen suggested changing the color code in the Key for the future bike paths, rails to trails and sidewalk to make them easier to differentiate. He also suggested that a portion of the sidewalk along the south side of Whitehorse Road be removed from the map.

Mr. Allen asked about the sidewalk shown in front of the Charlestown Elementary School, and Mrs. Leland said it should be left in place to allow access from the parking lot to the bus area.

Mr. Comitta said it should be noted that Exhibit E of the TND Ordinance will have to be changed to coincide with the base map once it’s completed.

Mrs. Leland asked for the date of the Google area photograph used for the base map, and Mr. Comitta said he’ll check.

Mr. Motel asked to revisit the objectives of the Planning Commission in creating the base map. Mr. Comitta said at Mr. Westhafer’s suggestion, a map needed to be made showing the collective vision of the entire area to better understand where certain amenities such as street trees and crosswalks will be needed. Mr. Westhafer said the Route 29 traffic signal improvement plan prompted the need for the base plan.

Mr. von Hoyer suggested using a different color for the internal walking trails at Spring Oak than that used for the Slip Ramp. He asked about a sliver of property within the Spring Oak tract, and Mr. Allen said it was the Smurthwaite property, which remained zoned Farm Residential.

Mr. Westhafer said the Township line should be shown.

Mr. Motel asked if they should show amenities such as tot lots in Spring Oak, or ballfields in TND Area 2. Mr. Comitta said yes, they could be shown as “proposed” or “potential” and be numbered in a key.

Mr. Motel asked about the crossover boulevard from Tyler Griffin, where a signal will eventually be needed. Mr. Westhafer suggested this be added to Plan B and the others agreed. Mr. Motel said the crossover boulevard would have a community feel.

Mr. Comitta said having Plan B helps reserve uses as time goes by and a developer comes in with an alternative. Their proposal can be reviewed and considered in relation to the concept.

Mr. Westhafer asked what areas may next be developed. Mr. Motel said he and Mr. Kuhn met with a principal from the Gambone Group, who will be involved with Tom Fillippo on the development of Area 2. He said Mr. Fillippo is considering when to start. Mr. Westhafer asked if Area 2 will fall under the TND regulations including Design Review Committee sessions and producing a design manual and Mr. Allen said yes.

Mr. Motel said he’s heard from Eli Kahn that a proposal for TND Area 3 will likely happen next, although he’s heard talk of a hotel which that area isn’t zoned for.

Mr. Comitta recapped the changes to be made to the Base Map as follows:

He asked if there was anything else. Mr. Allen suggested showing a link from Spring Oak to TND Area 2. Mr. Westhafer suggested doing this as a graphic and not as a proposed road, and Mr. Comitta said this could be done by using dotted lines.

Mr. von Hoyer asked if the boundary should be re-drawn for the Fillippo tract to exclude the Slip Ramp property. Mr. Comitta said this was a good point, and Mr. Westhafer said TPD can provide this data. Mr. Comitta said the zoning would then revert to what it was before it was placed in the TND.

Mr. Motel said Perry Morgan had a concept plan for the connector road that included buffering, and suggested it be included on Plan B. Mr. Comitta said he has all of Mr. Morgan’s maps available to him.

Mr. von Hoyer asked about another sliver of the Turnpike property adjacent to “The Office” restaurant. Mr. Motel said it was zoned Neighborhood Commercial 1 prior to the TND ordinance. Mr. Allen suggested re-drawing the TND line there as well.

Mr. Wright said he recalled that the idea for developing this base plan came from the general opinion that Devault was unattractive, and an overall concept was needed to create a nice amenity to this entrance area to Charlestown Township.

Mr. von Hoyer asked if the two small parcels of the Commons @ Great Valley being donated to the Township by J. Loew and Associates should be included in the TND, or are they too distant. Mr. Allen said these two parcels could be banked for future connection to trails if the railroad is abandoned at some point in time.

Mr. Comitta referred to the tour he took with members of the Parks & Recreation Board two weekends ago, where they saw many people parking at the Elementary School to access the Horse Shoe Trail. This prompted him to show the School on the base map even though it’s outside of the TND.

Mr. Motel asked about the parking area along Rees Road that is used to access the Horse Shoe Trail, and Mr. Allen said it will remain. Mr. Motel said in that case, it should be added to Plan A.

Mr. Westhafer asked if the widened road improvements are shown on the base map, and said a master auto-cad of them is needed. Mr. Comitta said he’ll check on this.

Mrs. Leland asked if Mr. Comitta needed any additional input from the Planning Commission regarding the notes he provided on the Parks & Rec tour. Mr. Comitta provided more comments from the tour. He said the tour group saw many horseback riders at the Brightside Farm. Alix Coleman will be investigating the correct orientation for the Longwood School ruins, which some say has the door facing Valley Hill Road instead of Bodine Road as it should be. There’s also a question of the orientation of the school footprint itself. He said the tour group admired the many historical interpretative signs they saw at various locations that day. He asked Mrs. Csete to provide him with a copy of the bid package for the signage.

Mr. Allen mentioned Jenkins Park, for which there is debate on whether it should be an active or inactive park. Mr. Comitta noted the tour group was split on this question. Mr. Allen said there was a suggestion of a tennis court, which is inappropriate in a wooded area. Mr. Comitta said he believed the group was leaning toward an inactive park after he pointed out there would be more active areas in Devault.

The Base Map will be discussed further at the February 14, 2012 meeting.

Lighting Ordinance Changes

Mr. Comitta said he spoke earlier today with Solicitor Mark Thompson regarding Mr. Thompson’s concern that an individual property owner could install harmful or offensive lighting outside of the need for a land development, so the ordinance wouldn’t apply in that instance if the lighting regulations are moved from Zoning to SLDO. He proposed a resolution to this concern, and Mr. Comitta circulated a revised packet on the lighting ordinance. He referred to page 22-70, Section 22-517.1.B, in which Mr. Thompson drafted a sentence to indicate that development in all districts shall also meet all the requirements in this (SLDO) section and Section 27-1617.7 of the Zoning Ordinance for the control of glare and off-site trespass illumination. Moving the lighting regulations in general to the SLDO gives the Planning Commission the ability to recommend waivers for some development and for the Board to grant them.

Mr. Comitta referred to page 22-70, Section 22-517.1.C, which doesn’t include the TND or FR zones. He asked if the TND should be added and the FR zone left without requirements for lighting. If so, lift the “strikeout” on the zoning districts listed and add TND to them. For Section 22-517.1.B, Lift the strikeout referring to lighting in the FR, R-1 and H Districts.

Mr. Comitta referred to the TND lighting standards on the last page of the Part 5 packet that shows 15 feet as the maximum height in TND areas 4 & 5, and an 18 feet maximum in Areas 2 & 3. He said the TND ordinance provides for a 16 feet maximum in areas 4 & 5 and suggests changing this to 15 feet. Mr. Allen said he’d like to make the wording consistent, noting he doesn’t like the phrase “photometric center.”

Mr. Motel asked how a property owner would be regulated if they put up garish lighting. Mr. Comitta said they could be cited if the Zoning Officer deems it excessive glare, or finds excessive light intensity. Mr. Allen referred to Stan Stubbe’s email sent earlier today that explained the difficulty in measuring and defining glare as subjectivity is involved, yet this ordinance needs teeth to enforce. He said the requirement to shield lighting should be added to the ordinance.

Mr. Allen said the move from the Zoning Ordinance to the SLDO for lighting regulations started when the Great Valley School District didn’t want to go through the Zoning Hearing Board to seek a variance on lighting the bus area at the Charlestown Elementary School. He asked if the Township is being reactionary in considering the change. Mr. Comitta said at the November 22nd Planning Commission meeting, John Mostoller also indicated they needed some wiggle room from Spring Oak. Mr. Allen said their needs could be handled by the TND ordinance.

Mr. Comitta said the Planning Commission should determine if it feels this move to the SLDO has long-term benefits, allowing them to recommend waivers for lighting in certain situations, or if they now feel all departures from the lighting requirements should go through the Zoning Hearing Board, in which case only a few adjustments are needed to the existing requirements.

Mr. von Hoyer said regarding the scenario of one house producing glare, Homeowners’ Associations often dictate that nothing over a 200 watt bulb will be used outdoors, and maybe this type of requirement would work in the FR district, perhaps using the wattage of a standard floodlight. Mr. Allen said the distance from the property line and direction of the light need to be considered.

Mr. Comitta said at the November 22nd meeting, Mr. Philips and Mr. Kuhn leaned toward making the move to the SLDO. Mr. Westhafer noted Mr. Stubbe’s specifications included in his email are very restrictive. Mr. Comitta asked Mr. Kohli if he has been able to get people to adjust wattage or provide shielding of lights that have elicited complaints from neighbors, and Mr. Kohli said yes. Mr. von Hoyer said the ordinance should make room for the use of motion detection security lights, which he thinks shouldn’t be discouraged. Mr. Westhafer said they could be held to the same standards.

Mr. Comitta suggested the lighting regulations be discussed further at the February 14th meeting, and in the meantime he’ll talk with Stan Stubbe and ask him to provide language for concerns not addressed thus far.

Mr. Allen said he has a lot of questions on the ordinance draft to be addressed and went through them as follows.

  1. In General Provisions 27-1617A: What does “sky-reflected glare” mean? Mr. Comitta will check with Mr. Stubbe.
  2. In the same section, “high temperature processes” are mentioned. He said this sounds like it’s referring to industrial lighting. Mr. Comitta said he’ll ask Mr. Stubbe for a better term that applies to all uses.
  3. In Sections 22-517.1.C and F.: What does “facilities” mean. Should this read “fixtures”? Mr. Comitta will check on this.
  4. Section 22-517.2.B – the fraction 1/10 should be changed to 0.1.
  5. Section 22-517.2.B – is that 1/10 at ground level?
  6. Section 22-517.2.D, 4th line, the word “shading” should be “shielding.”
  7. Section 22-517.2.G – what does “disabling glare” mean? It’s very subjective. Mr. Motel noted Mr. Stubbe said to keep it subjective so the Zoning Officer can act.
  8. Section 22-517.2.H – the list where fixtures shall be located is confusing.
  9. Section 22-517.3.B – questioned the term “vertical light output.”

    Mr. von Hoyer referred to Section 22-517.2.E. and said holiday lighting would not be in compliance since it prohibits blinking lights. Mr. Motel suggested adding “except seasonal lighting” or similar language.

    Mrs. Leland referred to Section 22-517.2.F, which indicated no landscape lighting could be on between 11 p.m. and dawn. While she is in favor of it, she doesn’t know how this would be enforced. Mr. Motel said this requirement may be unnecessary. Mr. Allen said this applies to other than residences; it applies to retail and commercial properties, which need the lights.

    Mr. Allen continued with his list.

  10. He referred to the Table in Section 4, noting that the maximum foot-candle of 10 seems to be out of line and should be checked. Mr. Comitta said the parking area at Penn State Great Valley has 10 foot-candle lighting and suggests checking it out.
  11. Section 4.B states all security lighting shall not exceed 25% of the lighting levels otherwise permitted. He asked what the definition of security level is.
  12. Section 4.A.4 0 - He asked if this section on illuminated signs belongs here or under Signage.

    The Lighting Ordinance will be discussed further at the February 14, 2012 meeting.

January 10, 2012 Meeting Agenda

The Planning Commission discussed the January agenda, and Mr. Allen asked Mrs. Leland if she’ll block out time for the Tyler Griffin and Spring Oak presentations. Mrs. Leland suggested 1 ½ hours for each and the members agreed.


Mrs. Leland adjourned the meeting at 9:30 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Linda M. Csete
Township Manager